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Trump planning new tariff crackdown on China

Trump's envoys to the WTO have said China has violated several trade rules, yet rarely gets caught
FREDERIC J. BROWN (AFP)
Beijing has repeatedly warned it will respond to hostile US trade measures

US President Donald Trump is mulling fresh tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese imports, aiming in particular at the tech and telecommunications sector, according to media reports.

The White House is currently eyeing a hundred different Chinese products, a person with knowledge of internal discussions told AFP, stressing that the dollar value had not been settled on.

Trade war fears sent US stocks diving on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 300 points, or 1.3 percent, shortly after 1600 GMT.

Lawmakers and industry representatives say fresh restrictions will invite retaliation that could see US exporters suffer.

At a meeting last week, Trump told Cabinet members and aides that he wanted to hit China hard over its alleged theft of American intellectual property, according to Politico, which cited three people with knowledge of the matter.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer proposed a package of $30 billion in tariffs but Trump instructed Lighthizer to go higher, Politico reported.

The US trade deficit with China ran to a record $375 billion last year but US exports to the country were also at a record.

Trump on Thursday announced steep tariffs on steel and aluminum but provisionally exempted Canada and Mexico, two of the largest US suppliers who are currently participating in talks with Washington to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The same day, Trump announced talks with Beijing on reducing the US trade deficit by $100 billion, adding that Chinese officials had been "very helpful" and that Washington would reduce the bilateral deficit "one way or another."

Beijing has repeatedly warned it will respond to hostile US trade measures and has launched an anti-dumping investigation into US imports of sorghum and has not ruled out measures on soy beans.

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